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Surveyor General - General Administrative Records - Yazoo Land Fraud Records

 Series
Identifier: 003-01-069

Scope and Contents

This series consists of original records which survived the destruction of the papers associated with the Yazoo Land Fraud of 1795.

In 1794 and 1795, land speculation in Georgia reached its highest level when four Yazoo companies, the Georgia Company, the Georgia-Mississippi Company, the Upper Mississippi Company, and the Tennessee Company--liberally bribed the Georgia Legislature into passing a bill that sold them 35 million acres of land in Georgia's western territory (now part of Mississippi and Alabama) for around $500,000. A rather weak Governor Mathews signed the Yazoo law early in January 1795. With only one exception, the legislators who supported the bill were given stock in the Yazoo companies.

Once the public found out about the law and its method of passage, a great rage ensued. Grand juries, newspapers and irate citizens condemned it. Because of the fraud, the 1795 election saw a wholesale turnover of legislators. The act of repeal in 1796 effectively declared the original law contrary to both the United States and the state constitutions, against the public interest, and fraudulent. With the exception of the original records in this series, all papers connected with the Yazoo fraud were collected and a bon fire was held outside the state capitol in Louisville. However, the memory lingered.

The state provided for refund in purchase of the Yazoo lands, but third parties who had unknowingly bought portions of the land refused to take refunds on insistence that they were entitled to the land. However, state courts rejected this view and the matter was not easily settled. In 1798 Congress made another attempt to negotiate the cession of Georgia's western lands and set up a territory that included all of Georgia's western claims. Then in 1802, the United States and Georgia agreed to terms of cessation. The Yazoo claims were now transferred to the U.S. government. In 1810, the Supreme Court declared the Georgia repeal act of 1796 was unconstitutional in that it infringed on a valid contract. As a consequence, the federal government now has the constitutional authority to review all state statues. Finally in 1814, Congress provided financial settlement with the Yazoo claimants and the matter became subject for the history books.

Dates

  • Created: 1795-1802

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Unrestricted

Extent

0.50 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement Note

available online through the Virtual Vault.

Creator

Title
Surveyor General - General Administrative Records - Yazoo Land Fraud Records
Author
Georgia Archives
Description rules
Local
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Georgia Archives Repository

Contact:
5800 Jonesboro Rd
Morrow GA 30260 United States